Suspended Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is expected to plead not guilty on Wednesday in a Texas court to a felony charge that he injured his son while disciplining him with a thin tree branch in May.
Peterson, 29, was indicted in September by a grand jury on a charge of causing reckless or negligent injury to a child, one of several domestic violence or abuse cases to damage the reputation of the National Football League in 2014.
Peterson has admitted using a switch, the thin end of a tree branch, to discipline his 4-year-old son, but said he was not trying to injure him and that his actions reflected the types of discipline he received growing up.
He is scheduled to appear in a Montgomery County court north of Houston on Wednesday morning for his first hearing on the charge. The discipline left visible marks on the boy.
A spokeswoman for Peterson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said the NFL player would plead not guilty, if asked, by the judge during the court appearance.
It is unclear whether Peterson will be asked to enter a plea or whether a trial date will be set. He was detained briefly after the indictment in September and released on bond.
Peterson could be sentenced to up to two years in prison and fined $10,000 if convicted of the felony charge.
Peterson, the NFL’s most valuable player in 2012, sat out one game for the Vikings and was reinstated briefly, drawing widespread criticism. The team then put him on indefinite paid leave.
The charge against Peterson followed by days the emergence of a video in which another prominent running back, Ray Rice, could be seen knocking out his future wife in early 2014.
Rice had been suspended two games for the incident involving his then-fiancee, but was released by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL after the video circulated.
(Reporting by Amanda Orr in Houston; Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Peter Cooney)